The rain stayed off and the sun beamed down on Stephen Byrne’s farm in Co Kildare where hundreds of families from both farming, and crucially, non-farming backgrounds attended Agri Aware’s open farm event.

The aim of the annual event is to bridge the gap between rural and urban dwellers and to give those from non-farming backgrounds the chance to see a working farm focused on food production in an environmentally sustainable way.

A schools day was held on Friday, giving over 400, predominantly Dublin-based, primary school students an opportunity learn about how food is produced.

A self-guided tour of the farm featured stalls about soil health and fertility, water quality, trees, plants and grass types and information on measures that are being taken to reduce emissions on farms.

Sheep shearing demonstrations proved popular for young and old, as did milking demonstrations. Facepainting and a mini pet farm kept the youngsters occupied.


Many attendees had never been on a working farm before and one man from Dublin described how he now has a greater understanding and appreciation of where food comes from.

"It really does open your eyes to the hard work that goes into it, you don't see it when you live in the city."

A panel discussion featuring the Byrne family illustrated how the farm really is a family affair, with Stephen’s parents, wife and sons all playing a role in its success.

“A happy animal, a happy environment and a happy customer are very important to me as a farmer," Stephen said.

“I am delighted to see so many people here today that we can show the work that is put into producing milk, and that goes for beef and lamb… there is a farm and a farmer behind it.”


Stephen highlighted the work that farmers do to look after the environment.

“We take environment, sustainability, reducing emissions, lowering carbon footprint and improving water quality very seriously. Farmers across the country are working extremely hard to improve them at the moment.”

Commenting on the success of the day, Marcus O’Halloran, executive director of Agri Aware, said:

“It is a great event to build agricultural literacy amongst a non-agricultural audience. Days like today where we can get the public to engage with the practices that we are preaching and witness that firsthand are really important for the sector.

“As a dairy farmer myself, we do an awful lot of work in terms of looking after the environment and looking after animals. We take a lot of measures that are ultimately trying to reduce our carbon footprint and it is important for the general public that they can come and understand the message we are trying to deliver and the journey we are on.”

The event was sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, the National Dairy Council, the Irish Farmers Association and Tirlán.